Tigers’ Jillian Middleton inks with Ashland
MARIETTA — Jillian Middleton is planning to soar with the Eagles.
The Ashland University Eagles, that is.
The Marietta High senior inked a National Letter of Intent to continue her education and play softball at Ashland U Monday afternoon in the lobby of Sutton Gymnasium at the Davis Avenue-based school.
“I’ve been on the college search for a while, and when I walked on the campus at Ashland, I immediately knew that it was home,” said the 17-year-old Middleton, whose nickname is Jilly. “I loved it there. It was the perfect fit and only 2-1/2 hours away from home.
“I got along great with the coaches and the players — and it was just home from the start.”
Ashland University is an NCAA Division II school and a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). The Eagles softball team is coached by Emlyn Knerem.
“Their softball program is really good,” Middleton said.
Middleton said she’ll be majoring in “Early Childhood Education.”
“I’d like to eventually teach and coach in high school — and work my way up,” she said.
In the MHS classroom, Middleton owns a 3.0 GPA. She said her favorite subjects are history and math.
Last spring as a Marietta junior, Middleton earned All-Ohio first team honors. When she was a sophomore, she was a second-team all-state honoree.
“Jillian has definitely earned everything she’s achieved here,” said Marietta head softball coach John Doughty, who guided the Tigers to a 10-14 record in 2019. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and that’s something she’s done since her freshman year. I give her a lot of credit.
As the ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff, the right-handed-throwing Middleton struck out 144, walked 25, and had a 2.66 ERA last season. In one hard-luck, 13-inning game against New Philadelphia, she fanned 20 — and lost.
In seven of Marietta’s 10 wins, she was the hurler of record.
Middleton was also the Tigers’ leading hitter, batting .447 (34-76) with six home runs, 13 doubles, two triples, and 26 runs-batted-in. She had an on base percentage (OBP) of .482.
“She’s a very versatile player,” Doughty said. “She played a little bit of second base last year and some shortstop when we needed her.”
Last summer, Middleton pitched for the 16U Outlaws Premier-Lucas travel team.
Middleton is the daughter of Kevin and Darcie Middleton. She has a younger sister Emma.
Ron Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org